The UN has raised an alarm over what it termed the “alarming increase” in bigotry fuelled by the Internet.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave the warning at the 2018 International Holocaust Remembrance Day to honour the memory of some six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust during World War Two.
Guterres also denounced the rise in anti-Semitism, recounting many other victims of what he called “unprecedented, calculated cruelty and horror”.
“We see bigotry moving at lightning speed across the Internet”, the UN chief underscored.
He pointed to “intolerance entering mainstream politics – targeting minorities, Muslims, migrants and refugees, and exploiting the anger and anxiety of a changing world”.
“Now more than ever, let us unite in the fight for universal values and build a world of equality for all,” the Secretary-General said.
Under the theme: ‘Holocaust Remembrance: Demand and Defend Your Human Rights’, youths are being encouraged to learn valuable lessons from the Holocaust, such as acting forcefully against discrimination and defending essential democratic values.
Guterres recalled the quote by former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sacks: “The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews”.
In her remarks, General Assembly President María Espinosa, told the survivors she was deeply humbled and touched by their tragedies.
“Most of us in this room can never understand nor begin to realise the impact of that horror on your lives.
“Records and recordings, documentation and recollections, can never tell the full story of one of the worst tragedies in human history,” she said.
She declared that only through remembrance and education could the hatred of others, the demonisation of groups and the cynical manipulation of opinion that promoted such hatred and violence, could be countered and stopped.
She called for bold, quick actions by world leaders to stand up against the rising tide of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and intolerance in all its forms.
Espinosa warned that with the bounds that had held the world together since World War II showing clear signs of fraying, “talking is not enough.”
“As leader, as citizens, as people of faith and of conscience we need to stand up for what we believe.
“Our survival as a modern civilization, based on the rule of law and human rights and respect for the dignity every individual depend upon it,” she said.
In other events, an exhibition called ‘Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognised as Righteous Among the Nations’, shared the unique stories of the diplomats who, serving under Nazi regimes, saved Jewish lives by providing passports, visas and travel permits for their escape.
“Only through multilateral action and cooperation can we move closer to achieving a world of safety and dignity for all people, everywhere”, the UN chief said at the launch.